CHICAGO -- With a rainout Wednesday night and more showers expected in the area all day Thursday, the pregame chat with Ron Washington focused on the possibility of another rainout. Washington was asked what positives may come from a few unexpected days off early in the season.
“There’s no benefit, you want to play,” Washington said. “We’re not really having a bunch of nagging injuries right now. There’s not too many guys that need days off, I was thinking of getting some guys some days off if we’d have continued to play. But these days helped that out, so (that’s) a blessing in disguise. When we’re able to play ball again, we’re just going to have to get out there and see if there’s any rust.”
If the Rangers are indeed washed out Thursday, it means left fielder David Murphy will have four straight days without getting a game in (the Rangers had a scheduled off day on Monday and Murphy sat Tuesday).
“(It) shouldn’t (affect him, as long as) he gets in the cage and continues to swing,” Washington said. “At this point, all the at-bats you had in spring training and the 50 or 60 you have in the regular season (help). Those that can’t hit, it might affect them, they will continue to not hit. Those that can hit … it’s mind over matter. You want to keep playing, but you’re not. You go in the cage and you continue to swing the bat and just keep the repetition going. When you’re able to get back on the field, then you’ll see where you are. You certainly don’t want to be sitting around during a rain delay.”
Washington said that the only work the players have gotten done over the past 24 hours is hitting in the cages. Wrigley Field has limited facilities for the players -- both the home and road teams -- so there weren’t many options since the field was unusable. Pitching coach Mike Maddux ran the pitchers and had them "use their arms."
Berkman gets a break: Washington did find a positive spin for one of his players. Lance Berkman was not expected to start any of the games in Chicago. Washington also admitted that Berkman was unable to get loose in the cold weather of Tuesday night’s game to be a pinch-hitting option.
“This could be a blessing in disguise for him as we move further on into the season,” Washington said. “He got a break, not because we wanted to give him a break, but because it worked out that way. We don’t have too many nagging injuries, I know those guys want to play, but it could be a blessing in disguise. We’re being challenged, sometimes over the course of a year, this happens. Believe me, it’s gonna get to the point where we’re gonna wish we had some days off. So you just take it in stride.”
Sizing up the competition: Washington discussed the team’s next opponent, the Seattle Mariners, saying that he felt they’re undoubtedly an improved team from last year’s last place 75-87 squad.
“They got some experience in that lineup to supply for their offense,” Washington said. “They’ve always played tight ballgames, they’ve always pitched, they’ve always played defense. They are improved. The only thing I see them lacking is some speed. But they certainly got some guys in that lineup that can hurt you and that have hurt people before. They’re no different than some teams.”
Seattle, 6-10 on the season, is tied with three teams for seventh in runs scored (56) and is 14th in batting average (.220) in the AL, and although their pitching is usually strong, they’ve allowing the sixth most runs per game (4.56) in the league.
Washington said no team had really separated themselves from the pack early on except for the 12-4 Oakland Athletics.
“Right now everything they’re doing is working,” Washington said. “They’re putting all kinds of runs on the board, they’re offense is lighting it up, the pitchers are doing a good job. They’re playing extremely well. At some point everyone else is going to catch up, as well.”
Oakland currently leads the league in numerous offensive categories, including runs (96), runs per game (6.00), OBP (.354), OPS (.818) and home runs (20), while the pitching has been solid, posting a 3.55 team ERA.